The army said the deaths occurred when protesters approached the Republican Guard compound, where protesters suspect deposed president Mohamed Mursi is being held.
Armed forces’ spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, said an “armed terrorist group” attempted to storm the Republican Guard compound using live ammunition. “They killed an officer and injured 42 others, eight seriously,” he added.
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, said the deaths were caused when the army attacked protesters at a sit-in for Mursi.
The imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the highest Sunni authority in Islam, has called on all Egyptians to stop the bloodshed. He threatened to go into seclusion until the fighting stopped.
An official at Al-Azhar, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Al-Azhar imam wanted to spend the first ten days of Ramadan in his village near Luxor, which is his normal annual holiday, but recent incidents and the bloody scenes on the streets have forced [him] to decide to come back to Cairo.”
In another development, politicians in Egypt have called on the Muslim Brotherhood to stop the escalation and provide an opportunity for a political solution through national dialogue.
The head of the Conference Party, Amr Mousa, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Violence is rejected and the army protects all,” adding, “The murderers of those killed near the Republican Guard compound are those who egged them on and insisted that deposed President Mursi must return even at the cost of their blood.”
He added that “the formation of a transitional government to run the country will happen soon,” and that “the salvation front supports the road map announced by the chief of staff of the armed forces, Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.”
The Salafist Nour Party condemned the “murders” near the Republican Guard headquarters, adding in a statement that “everyone must stop the incitement and escalation which leads to confrontation, and ultimately destroys the country.” It called on all parties to enter into a dialogue in the interest of the country as a whole.
Meanwhile, the United States has condemned the violence and called on all parties to exercise restraint. It also called on Egyptians to speed up the formation of a transitional government.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “The United States is concerned with developments in Egypt. We condemn all types of violence and call on the army to exercise restraint. We also condemn calls by the Muslim Brotherhood for violence and think Egypt will not come out of the cycle of violence without reconciliation, and without encouraging all parties to participate in the political process.”
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has expressed his shock at the events in Cairo. He called for an “independent investigation” into the incident and pointed to “serious fears” that more violent acts could take place in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Turkey, Qatar and Tunisia, have all condemned the killing of civilians in Cairo.
The government of Turkey, which condemned the toppling of Mursi as a military coup, described the events in Cairo as a “massacre”, and called on the EU to take action regarding events in Egypt.
Qatar said it “strongly condemned the regrettable incidents which lead to the killing of innocent people,” and called on Egyptians to find a political solution to the crisis.
Tunisian Islamic Ennahda party, which governs the country, has also condemned the “massacre” of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and called on the world to stand in solidarity with legitimacy.
Iran said “the interference of the armed forces in political affairs was not acceptable and caused concern,” adding that “the division of the Egyptian people is dangerous.”
In Gaza, a Hamas spokesman said the movement “condemned the massacre which killed dozens of Egyptian civilians yesterday morning and expressed its sorrow and pain for the deaths.”
Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour, spoke on the telephone to his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr, and told him he hoped all parties in Egypt would use to dialogue to resolve their differences.